The Russian translation of Facing the Lion (Osobaya Kniga – Moscow – 2006) was released at the House of Scientists on May 25, 2006. Dmitry Protsenko, editor-in-chief of Osobaya Kniga publishing, spoke about the relevance of Simone Liebster’s story of life under a repressive fascist regime, as told through the eyes of a child. He compared the book to the Diary of Anne Frank, the Jewish girl who perished tragically in Hitler’s concentration camps.
Uwe F. H. Klages, president of the Arnold-Liebster Foundation (ALS) of Karben, Germany, stated that the book Facing the Lion is part of the Foundation’s efforts to preserve knowledge about a tragic and little-known page in the history of World War II. The Foundation’s slogan is “Remember the past to protect the future.” ALS uses peaceful means to “fight” for religious freedom by publishing books on fascist terror, installing memorial stones and plaques for Jehovah’s Witness victims, and sponsoring themed exhibitions in schools and universities.
Historian Sergei Ivanenko provided statistics about the persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses and stated that in his opinion, the contribution of the Witnesses to the victory over fascist Germany should be recognized. “They did not send trains down a slope” like Belorussian partisans, he said, “but they lived in accordance with the Bible” and spiritually resist fascist ideology. Ivanenko noted that on May 24 the Moscow city council had passed the first reading of a law that potentially penalizes the Witnesses the equivalent of one to three days’ wages for allegedly “harassing passers-by on the streets”. The legislators ought to know their history better, he said. Witnesses will not be intimidated by such a penalty.”
The program concluded with an interview of Simone Liebster during which she recounted the hardships her family faced, as well as their remarkable survival and reunion after the war in 1945.